One of the most unique and beautiful places on earth, Norfolk Island carries a special mystique that distinguishes it from everyday life.
Steeped in a wealth of history, culture, stunning scenery and tranquillity, Norfolk Island will delight your senses and deliver an unforgettable experience. Ideal for families and romantic getaways, visitors can laze under the majestic pines, snorkel in the lagoons, kayak the coastline or trek on one of the secluded outer islands. Norfolk Island offers the chance to discover the beauty of nature at its finest.
This island is different to most others in the Pacific. Instead of palm trees, Norfolk’s spectacular cliffs are topped with the island’s famous pines, and its rolling green hills are reminiscent of England. Several sandy beaches offer access to the surf and there is a wonderful lagoon with a coral reef that offers excellent snorkeling.
Located approximately 1600 kilometers east-northeast of Sydney, Norfolk Island was formed from volcanic activity and has a total area of 3455 hectares, one-third of which is national parks and reserves. There are two smaller islands that lay to the south called Nepean and Phillip, both of which are uninhabited.
Capital and major centers Norfolk is home to around 2200 permanent residents. The main administrative center is the former penal colony of Kingston, which is situated by the sea. Most of the town’s shops, cafés and restaurants are situated at Burnt Pine, on top of the ridge. There can be up to 700 visitors on the island at a time.
Historical evidence suggests that Polynesians lived on Norfolk Island centuries ago. Today, however, most of the residents are descendants of Fletcher Christian and The Bounty mutineers.
English is the official language, but the locals also speak Norfolk, a mixture of 18th century west country English with a dash of Tahitian and Gaelic, developed on Pitcairn Island so the English rebels could converse with Tahitian women and men.
Discovered in 1774 by Captain James Cook, who described the island as ‘paradise’, the island was named after the ninth Duchess of Norfolk. With the foundation of Sydney Cove in 1788, Norfolk became the second oldest British settlement and was set up as a penal colony. By 1810 more than a quarter of the island had been cleared but, because it lacked a suitable safe harbor, it was abandoned in 1814 and its convicts sent to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania).
In 1825 Norfolk Island was resettled as a penal colony and became renowned for its brutality. Convicts labored to establish the colony, building the prison, military barracks, boat sheds, crank mill, Salthouse and official residences which still stand today and have been beautifully restored. This second settlement was finally closed in 1855 and the island remained uninhabited until 1856 when the Bounty descendants arrived from Pitcairn Island. In 1914, the island was placed under the authority of Australia and in 1979 it was empowered to elect its own parliament.
With such a colorful and bloody history, it is not surprising that Richard Davis, author of Ghost Guide to Australia, claims that Norfolk is the most haunted place in Australia with more documented ghosts per square kilometer than any other state or territory!
Home of the Norfolk pine, the largest of these magnificent trees is 57 meters high and has a girth of 11 meters. The island’s clear night skies are a stargazer’s delight and scientists say that Norfolk has the cleanest air in the world after Antarctica.
There is prolific bird life and Norfolk harbors what is thought to be the world’s rarest bird, the Norfolk Island Boobook Owl. In the lagoon and ocean reefs, there are more than 100 varieties of hard and soft corals. There are no snakes or poisonous spiders on the island. Cattle and ducks roam the island and have right of way on the roads. One-third of the island’s land mass is parkland, national parks, and reserves and there’s a specially designed waste disposal area so no harm is done to the ecosystem. Nearby at Philip and Nepean Islands are large bird sanctuaries that have been left untouched.
You can visit the world heritage listed site historical penal compound at Kingston and see what is thought of as the best-preserved collection of Georgian buildings in the southern hemisphere along with the fascinating tombstones in Kingston Cemetery. There is Mt Bates, Mt Pitt, Emily Bay and the historic chapel of St Barnabas. Explore the ruins on your own or witness one of the vivid re-enactments of Norfolk’s time as a penal colony. “The Trial of the 15” is a humorous play about the island’s history, while Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama is a spectacular indoor 360-degree 3D painting that visitors step into.
There are plenty of tours and events to choose from. They include fishing, bush-walking along rugged cliff tops and trails, or explore the island on a 4WD tour. “Walk in the Wild” is a private rainforest tour, there are also guided bird watching tours, the History in the Making Tour where you can learn about past working settlements of Norfolk.
The Hill Goat Farm tour lets you meet Cheeky Goats and wander through the Edible Gardens whilst the Milking and Cheese making process is explained. Finished off with a delicious platter of freshly made Goats Cheese and edible delights that have been freshly picked.
Where to stay
There are over 60 properties which range from self-contained apartments and hotel resorts to luxury cottages and houses. Most properties include a hire car and some properties are also green star accredited for being environmentally friendly.
There is no public transport. Car hire is among the cheapest in the world and push bikes are also available for hire. There is a taxi service but bookings are recommended.
Food and entertainment
Food is seasonal, fresh and island grown. There are no nightclubs, however, some of the hotels have live music. There are several fine dining restaurants such as Dino’s, Hilli Restaurant and Jolly Roger. Their menu includes steak and seafood and the bar offers a range of cocktails.
Norfolk is a sporting paradise, in fact, the island’s cricket pitch is the oldest in the southern hemisphere with the first match played on it in 1838. Sporting activities include golf, bowls, tennis, fishing, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, bush walking, and hiking.
Norfolk is a retail paradise. Its duty-free status means shoppers can pick up many bargains on cosmetics, perfumes, jewelry, cameras, imported shoes, designer clothes, as well as classic collectibles. For local arts and crafts, checking out the unique island markets is a must, they are held every Sunday morning in the Bicentennial Complex.
Subtropical. Winter averages 19oC. Summer averages 24oC.
Casual clothing, good walking shoes. Warmer clothes are needed for winter evenings.
The currency used is Australian dollars, credit cards are accepted. Tipping is at your discretion.